Tuesday 5th November 2019, 2.00pm (day 2,994)
First day on campus in 10. I just like this one as an abstract. Maybe I should make that a separate category for posts on the blog.
Artistic merit is one thing but the photos on here have to somehow epitomise the day, and as my journey home occupied the whole of the first ten and a half hours of 4/11/19, this was what had to be shown. It gets the ‘very early monring’ photo count up a notch, as well. Shot taken out of my window seat at 44K on the Jeddah – Frankfurt leg of my trek.
In many cities, the historic districts, with the older buildings, are the most desirable locations to live and stay. Jeddah is not one of those cities. The Old City still covers a decent expanse of land, but much of it is now ramshackle, and Saudis themselves do not live here. Instead the area is home to poorer migrants, such as from Yemen and Somalia, and there are signs of habitation in buildings that in many other places would be condemned. Then again, a reason they are still standing is because the city is now trying to preseve and restore the area, and there are visible signs of regeneration. I thought it was also a fairly friendly spot. Saudi Arabia definitely feels way more liberal than it did when I first came 11 years ago. (Not that I could have a beer with dinner, mind.)
Here I am for the weekend in Jeddah, second largest city in Saudi Arabia and home of some very tall things. For a start, visible here, the world’s tallest fountain, which fires tonnes of the Red Sea some 900 – 1,000 feet high (depending on how it is measured) into the sky. Somewhere not far behind me as I took this was the world’s tallest flagpole as well, and they’re working on what will become the world’s tallest building, apparently. But then again isn’t every modern city with aspirations, these days.
This is the blog’s first trip to Saudi Arabia, but my second. I went to Riyadh in 2008, which I just found weird (but with good food). Jeddah is more liberal, and also a lot more humid than expected. Food’s still good, though.
I am speaking at a conference this weekend, so today was my first flight since the EasyJet Iceland debacle back in July. (Never ever again, EasyJet.) Fortunately all went perfectly today. As to where I flew to — well, you can find that out tomorrow. The flight meant it was my first opportunity in those four months to get shots like this. All of Europe seemed to be covered in cloud today; only these peaks made it up above the grey. I don’t know exactly where this is, somewhere toward the eastern end of the Alps so maybe Austria or Slovenia, but this will have to join the list of locations in which I can’t even identify a country for certain.
Back home — at least for a day. It’s Halloween but I don’t really go for The Festival of Cheap Plastic Tat. I did have a couple of online classes to run however, so I let my totem make an appearance. Perhaps the Mac is also a totem — or a familiar? It’s certainly hard to weave any magic without it, these days.
On my way home, visited the Wallace Monument in Stirling, built to commemorate William Wallace, Scottish hero (yeah yeah, Braveheart, Mel Gibson, etc.). Three things about it are steep — the stairs to the top, the walk up the hill to it, and the £10.50 entry fee. These are just about compensated for by the view, however, which takes in the Ochils (where I walked yesterday), Stirling, the Highlands to the west and to the east, the valley of the River Forth. This is perhaps the least glamorous direction, but photographically the most interesting — today, at least.
I guess there’s all sorts of metaphorical and analogical interpretations which could be put on the title of this post, but it’s all literal — these people (and obviously, myself) were engaged this morning on the climb of the steep south slope of the hill known as The Law, just outside the little town of Tillicoultry, which is visible below. Why? On a day of glorious sunshine like this, why not?
One of those days where I travelled quite some distance, took quite a few photos of places I had not been before, yet am obilged to admit that the very first one of the day was the best — taken in the familiar surroundings of Hebden Bridge rail station. Ah, the station in the morning — those first steps on a journey that could lead one anywhere. Until, in my case, one gets as far as Preston then has to sit out a 70-minute delay thanks to Virgin Trains not really being bothered. Which pops the romantic bubble somewhat. But at 7.35am all that lay in the future.
When we arranged to go to Haworth this lunchtime to celebrate Clare’s birthday (a day late) I did not expect that this would also lead to coming face to face with this very handsome creature. Not to mention several other of his fellow raptors — owls, mainly — in a marquee in the pub beer garden. A photographic opportunity too good to miss. This peregrine falcon is called Geoff, apparently. I wonder how he feels about that.